Opening day of Chicago's C2E2 boasted big-ticket panel The New DC Universe, which was billed as a discussion with DC's "brightest" creators on the "bold new" directions the publisher is headed in. Hosted by Warner Bros. Animation producer and Bizarro writer Heath Corson, the talk included guests Amanda Conner, James Tynion IV, Jimmy Palmiotti, Genevieve Valentine, Khary Randolph, and David Finch.
Corson got right to it by asking Conner and Palmiotti what readers can look forward to in the coming issues of Harley Quinn.
"Well, Harley is very overworked," began Conner, "and having trouble balancing being a professional doctor and a non-professional psychopath. That's a lot of plates to spin so she's decided to hire a gang."
In regards to Captain Strong joining the series, Palmiotti stated, "I said that we needed a new villain for Harley. [DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio] said to look in the old books. Captain Strong is a character that finds this seaweed that gives him powers. He was originally a Superman villain. The gang of Harley's find him in a fisherman's bar in Sheepshead Bay and things go badly."
In regards to the upcoming Harley Quinn and Power Girl 6-issue miniseries, Conner said, "The story takes place between two panels from the original book where Power Girl has amnesia and Harley takes advantage. And they're such a perfect pair because Power Girl is so stoic and Harley is so off the wall. She's walnuts."
"There was a big story to tell there," added Palmiotti, "so we conned DC into letting us do it."
As for the couple's other upcoming series Starfire, Conner said, "It's going to have a very different tone, but it's still gonna be fun. It's not going to be heavy. She's a fish out of water from an alien planet, trying to get used to fitting in and understanding earth culture in Key West, Florida. Things get very confused. A lot of the time she saves the day."
"The fun in Key West is that she's orange and everyone there is too," finished Palmiotti.
Tynion was next on deck to say a few words about his new series, Constantine: The Hellblazer with co-writer Ming Doyle and artist Riley Rossmo.
"Ming and I wanted to introduce Constantine into the world of comics again in general," he said. "We wanted a John that walked out of the contemporary world and into the comic world. There's an excitement and a danger to the character, and we wanted to bring that back in a modern, contemporary sense. Like you'll see him standing at the corner of the bar, but you don't know if you should start a conversation because it feels like it might destroy your life."
He went on, "This is a book we're both incredibly excited to be working on. The challenge of being able to tell a story that lives up to the name 'Hellblazer' is very fresh in Ming and my minds. Being able to approach these characters that had been a part of the Vertigo universe was exciting. Hellblazer means horror, and we wanted to take the character back to those roots. There will be touches on the familiar, but we wanted to do a very John-centric story from the start."
We Are… Robin was the next title to be discussed, with Khary Randolph explaining that the book is "basically a gang of Robins. It's kind of a mix of Dark Knight Returns and V for Vendetta with more street level type stuff. It's an interesting book, I wanted to gritty it up a bit. The book revolves around Duke, so it's kind of his initiation in a degree to being a Robin and what that entails. It's a little violent."
The discussion turned to David Finch and the work he is currently undertaking with Wonder Woman.
"Well, the Wonder Woman Annual is basically a big fight between Wonder Woman and Donna Troy, so it was a lot of fun to draw," he said. "It's rare for me to be able to choreograph a fight scene page after page, so I had a blast."
When asked about his home/work like with his wife, comic writer Meredith Finch, he noted, "I do layouts with Meredith, actually, and we talk about it. It gives us both a lot of input that I don't get with other writers. We don't fight too much."
"Donna Troy is going to play a major role in the next arc of the ongoing series," he added. "I'm really hopeful that the people we've upset with Donna's story will come around. It's a story, it's just drama."
The moderator left the podium briefly to become a panelist, with Palmiotti asking Corson to explain what's going on in his upcoming series, Bizarro.
"First of all, I am completely unqualified to be up here with these amazing people," he said. "I was lucky enough to corner a DC editor when they were weak. Or drunk."
"The concept is Jimmy Olsen and Bizarro in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It's a trip with the two of them to Bizarro America, a.k.a Canada. We're going to be doing a tour through a lot of the DCU. It's a very silly book, it's going to be very fun. We're going to have a lot of cameos and cheesy jokes. There's a Chupacabra named Colin…"
Last to talk about their work was Geneveive Valentine, who is currently working on Catwoman. Corson inquired about how Selina's new mob boss persona came about.
"It came from Batman Eternal, where we sort of see her in charge of the Gotham underworld," Valentine said. "She doesn't like dealing with people, but she likes getting shit done. In the first arc we play around with testing those limits… her moral compass is very grey. She's now back in the suit and dealing with some people that she was expecting to never have to see again. Like Spoiler."
"She's never had only one agenda," she continued. "By day we have Selina Kyle, and then by night we have her at the helm of the underground. She's taken up the cowl again to fight against some of her worst instincts as a mob boss. She's absolutely not ready for all this, so she just does not care."
Corson paused to make an announcement regarding the special guest that was promised to arrive later in the panel, and welcomed Brian Azzarello to the stage.
Azzarello sat down and spoke to the audience.
"I want everyone to close their eyes, and imagine something for me. Two letters and one number. D, K, and 3."
Most of the audience puzzled, he continued, "It's Dark Knight 3."
Amidst a thundering round of applause, Azzarello concluded the panel by saying, "For the past few months I've been working with Frank Miller bringing the next chapter of the Dark Knight to life. It's exhilarating. I call him sensei. It's a big, big project and we're both really jazzed to bring it to you guys."